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A Matter of Power (The Station Part II, Team One)

Posted on 26 May 2018 @ 4:11pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Petty Officer 1st Class Allen Miller
Edited on on 26 May 2018 @ 4:14pm

Mission: The Search Begins
Location: Vargass Station (Orbiting Alpha Trios III)
Timeline: MD 2 || 0930 Hours

Joey stepped onto the station and took a quick look around, assessing their surroundings. She might have been in her new role as Intel Chief for a while now, but the Security officer in her was hard pressed to let things go. Maybe that would help her in the future, but then maybe it would get her into trouble. That remained to be seen, but for now, her focus was elsewhere as she looked for the perfect spot for her and her team to start. It didn't take long before she spotted a shady looking... what was it? A club? A casino? A bar? All of the above? Whatever it was, it looked like the patrons were having a good time, and that meant there were likely going to be people inside that had loose lips.

"There," she said to Miller and Kij, pointing toward the less than kosher appearing establishment. "That's where we're going to start. Any objections?"

Allen looked over to where Joey had indicated. The whole station had looked like the back room of a Ferengi black market dealer. But this place, whatever they came across in there would be beyond weird. "None from me," said Allen as he sidled up next to the Captain's pregnant wife.

With a shrug, Jayla said, "it's as good a place as any. I suspect your idea of where to start would be far better than mine," she added with a nervous grin.

Joey draped an arm across Jayla's shoulders and gave her a reassuring, yet gentle, squeeze. "It's going to be okay. I don't plan on what happened last time happening this time," she said softly. The ordeal on Razmena affected them all, but Doctor Kij more than anyone. It was up to her to see to it that there was no repeat of the incident, and that's what she was going to do. "Just stick close to me and Miller, and all will be well." With that and one more gentle squeeze, the Intel Chief made her way toward the establishment, making sure the other two people in her small party were close by.

Jayla gave Joey a grateful smile and took a deep breath. Kij's reassuring presence helped calm her as well. She dismissed the thought that nobody had really planned what had happened on Razmena either; no need to dwell on such dismal thoughts.

The Intel Chief looked around the place once they were inside and spotted a few species she wasn't quite familiar with. "We need to find an Aketi," she said, searching for some familiarity among those present. Rather than stand around and hope for the best, though, she moved farther into the establishment, trying not to bump into anyone, but her belly was making that pretty hard.

Allen wasn't quite sure which was Aketi and which was...whatever they were. He turned to Jayla, "Any idea what an Aketi looks like? I can't determine anything through the muck that's hanging in the air."

Joey didn't know what an Aketi looked like, either, but with this crowd, it would be hard to spot one even if she did. That left her with little choice, and while the idea she was currently toying with wasn't the best idea, it would probably be most effective. She turned her attention toward the closest table and climbed on top of one of the chairs, using Allen to keep herself steady as she stepped onto the table. Now, she had a better view of the area around them. "Hey!" she called out above the noise. "I'm looking for an Aketi!" And it was because she didn't mind having attention drawn to herself that she was even doing what she was in the first place.

And draw attention to herself she did. Not only were her words unintelligible, after all, who had ever seen a human before, especially one with such a swollen abdomen. Pregnancy, however, was something that managed to break the translation barrier, but not by far. Some of the crowd thought she was looking for a missing mate; others thought she was looking for a good time. Most importantly, perhaps, were the two sets of armed Aketi guards that approached her.

It was a good thing Joey didn't know what they were thinking, or she might have had to clear the air, but as she watched the armed Aketi guards approach, Joey figured it got the desired results. Carefully, she climbed down from the table and made her way toward them. "I'm going to cut to the chase," she began, looking at each of them in turn as it was the respectful thing to do. "We're new to the area, and have been in contact with your people before, which is why you can understand us and we can understand you. We're in need of your assistance. I'm fairly certain you're all curious to know how we've come in contact with your people before since none of you have ever so much as seen one of our kind before now." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly before continuing. "I'm prepared to tell you... if one of you, or even all of you, will help us."

"Tell us?" gruffed one of the Aketi. "You disturb the loading zone and only have information to share to a select few?" He nodded to a few of his companions. "You're under arrest for disturbing the peace. You and your companions." Around the Starfleet team, Aketi stepped forward to restrain Kij and Miller.

Joey stepped between her team and the Aketi in an attempt to prevent them from being arrested, keeping her attention toward the one who was speaking. "I never said anything about sharing information with a select few. That was you putting words in my mouth," she said. "The others... they don't understand what we're saying to them. You do, which is why I said we needed your help. If you want to call what I did disturbing the peace, then there's nothing I can do to change that, but even you have to realize it would be next to impossible to locate you in this crowd."

Though his mask obscured it, the talking Aketi snarled. "There are other ways to ask for help, alien. Turn around so that we can take you to processing."

"If you help us, we'll pay you," Joey said, trying to keep her temper in check. Now wasn't the time to let such things loose. "Gold... precious gems, all you have to do is help. And I'll throw in the information."

"Save it for the cell," the Aketi said, withdrawing a baton and activated it, letting the crackling energy do the talking for him.

Any other day, when she wasn't pregnant with twins, this would have gone so much differently, but there was more than just her to think about now. It was because of that, she placed her hands behind her back to allow herself to be arrested, and while she did it, she shot the Aketi a look that spoke volumes. It was a look, that if it were able to kill, would basically turn him into moon dust. "Whatever you say," she said, glancing toward Jayla and Allen and giving her head a nod.

But, Jayla wasn't having any of it. With a snarl, she jabbed one finger at Joey's swollen abdomen. "See this?" she snapped at the Aketi. "She ate the last guy who tried to arrest us. Alive. In one gulp. She might not be hungry, but the rest of us... well, it's been awhile since we had anything to eat." And she gave them an I dare you sort of look.

The dynamic, in that instantly, had been totally inverted. The subordinate Aketi guards looked to their superior. He'd heard many things in his long career, but that... that was a first. Were these aliens carnivores? And what of this newly outspoken woman with the spots that outlined her face and neck. He'd heard tales of a vampiric species on the other side of the zone, but there were indeed many other horrors and rumors that ran rampant in these parts. Perhaps it was best that they not try to force these aliens too far in their first appearance. It'd be best to slip back into the shadows and observe these aliens and learn more about them that way. After all, these Aketi were not paid enough anyway.

"Watch your step," the guard muttered to the aliens, deactivating his baton. "Cause a scene again, and we won't give you the chance to eat us." With that, he and his companions turned and walked away.

Joey looked toward Jayla and grinned. "You are an absolute genius, Jayla, and I'm very glad that worked. But now, we have another problem," she said as she looked down at her swollen abdomen, placing her hands on either side of it. "I think my breakfast is nearly digested now."

With a sheepish grin, Jayla's cheeks turned a bit pinker than usual. "I didn't actually expect that to work," she confessed, reaching into her pack and producing a ration bar. "We'll have to deal with these while we're here," she said, holding it out to Joey. "We don't have any idea what's in their food and if it's safe for us. At least now we know what an Aketi is and what the ones we want to avoid wear."

"Thanks," the Intel Chief said as she flipped the ration bar over to see what kind she got. Peanut butter brownie? How in the world did she get to be that lucky? Had it been the lasagna one Harvey managed to get some months back, she'd hunt down one of the Aketi guards and make good on Jayla's promise. "You're right about that. Let's see who we can find and figure out what we need to."

While munching on her ration bar, which she was grateful to have, Joey led her team through the mass of people while keeping an eye out for the guards. She didn't want a run in with them again, and it wasn't necessarily for her sake, but more for the sake of her people and the Aketi. Another round, and the Intel Chief just didn't think she'd be able to keep herself as reserved as she did before. Then again, with Jayla's quick thinking, she had a feeling they'd be able to get out of it.

As she scanned the crowd, her eyes fell on an Aketi that was among a smaller crowd of people. Joey didn't know what they were doing, but that wasn't going to keep her from interrupting. She made her way toward the small group and cleared her throat, addressing him. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to give us a bit of your time, would you?" she found herself asking. "Time is money and all of that, so I'll make it worth your while."

This particular Aketi was kneeling, just like his three opponents, as they manipulated what appeared to be a set of dice. "I don't need your money," he snarled, focusing on what he was about to roll. "I'm about to get theirs, which is more than what you'll be able to provide!"

Fully confident, he released the contents of his hand, sending four triangular die flying from his hand. These rolled around the floor, each one stopping with their red tips upward. Instantly, the entire group laughed and cheered. The Aketi, meanwhile, just hung his head in shock and shame.

"Looks like you can use what I have after all," Joey said, producing one of the sapphires to show him and his companions. "And there's more where this one came from if you and your friends answer a few questions for us. You'll get more, obviously, since you can understand the others and we can't."

Growling, the Aketi snarled. "Yes, show them more things that they will take from me."

Joey nearly rolled her eyes. Why couldn't they just cooperate? Of course, that would be way too easy, and things like this were never easy. "Look, I'm going to cut to the chase here. We need your help, and I'm willing to pay for your help. No one can take it from you unless you give them the option to," she said, trying to keep herself in check. The last thing she needed to do was irritate him to the point he didn't want to help. "The choice is yours. If you don't want to help us, I can certainly find someone who will be willing to take what we have to offer."

"Fine!" snarled the Aketi. "But not here. Not where people can find ways to exploit me. Meet me in the Vegomon Diner in five minutes," he instructed, nodding in the diner's direction, which was conveniently in sight.

"Five minutes," Joey agreed, making sure she was still in possession of everything she came inside with. As shady as this place was, she wouldn't doubt someone trying to pickpocket one of her people. It didn't take long before she was satisfied all was present, then with a nod of her head, gestured for the Jayla and Allen to follow her to the diner. If the Aketi decided to leave, then that was his loss. He would still be broke and butthurt, but at least by helping them, he had a chance at getting a hand up on his finances.

As agreed, the Aketi showed up exactly five minutes later as he had to settle up with his debtors. He had lost more than he earned, and the Aketi definitely felt eyes watching him, expecting to take their share of whatever he was about to earn. "You want my help?" he asked, joining them at a table. "You will pay for this meal, as well as handsomely for whatever else it is that you need."

"What is your currency here?" the Intel Chief asked. "I doubt the owner of this establishment would be willing to take gold coins or precious gems."

The Aketi widened his eyes in surprise, an action barely noticeable by the masks that protected his eyeballs from the nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere. "You don't have Daaliks? What are you, crazy?"

"Yes," she answered. "We're new to this area of space, which is why we require your help. Do you think anyone would be willing to trade some of these," Joey lifted the bag of gems he'd seen earlier. "for the Daaliks you mentioned?"

He grunted, looking at the swollen woman with disdain. "No one trades here. You buy or you sell. If it's gems you're trying to move, then you better go to the Valentina system."

"Then, I'll sell them," Joey stated rising to her feet and gesturing for the Aketi to join her. She looked toward Jayla and Allen. "You two stay here... keep an eye on things... I won't be gone long." And if she was lucky, they wouldn't rat her out to Camila or Harvey for leaving the group, but it was no secret she was capable of taking care of herself.

"Yeah, sure," said Jayla vaguely. "Stay here. With no local currency. I'm sure they won't kick us out or anything."

"Okay... come with us. We're better off staying together," Joey said, gesturing for them to follow.

Allen fell in step behind Joey and looked back to Jayla. He was determined to keep her and the Doctor safe. "C'mon, we can't let her out of our sight."

Jayla nodded and followed after Miller. She had no idea what good she would do, but a sudden image of a broken Hunter lying motionless on the floor of an unknown station flashed through her mind and she shuddered. Focus on something else. She concentrated on Allen's back for a moment, but that wasn't distracting enough. She ran a couple steps to catch up and walk side by side with him instead. Perhaps the activity on the station would be distracting.

The Intel Chief looked toward the Aketi. "Can you take us to the nearest shop that will be willing to buy these?"

"The gems?" the Aketi asked, following her back out into the dimly lit atrium. "Do you have anything else? The clans here are interested in arms and power. Riches don't help accomplish that."

"We've got metal, parts, cloth, medicines, gems, gold coins and a couple other things," Joey replied, gesturing for him to lead the way. "I'm sure we can make some of that work."

"I also have, ah... Medicines," Jayla added significantly. "Someone may find something interesting."

"Narcotics?" the Aketi asked the doctor. "There's a market for a lot out here. Anything that can be weaponized?"

"Anything can be weaponized, but we'd prefer not to know what's going to be done with it," the Intel Chief said. Of course, this was going against everything she stood for, but they needed information.

"Then we'll start with My'sharr," the guide said, leading them to a shop operated by Gorn-like individuals with brown leather-like skin and compound eyes. A U-shaped counter kept all of the customers away from the walls, which were coated with various types of weapons.

Lizard babies, Joey thought with a mental shudder. "You'll need to translate for us," she said to the Aketi as she moved up to the counter where the Gorn-like individual was standing opposite her. Hopefully, this would go as smoothly as she hoped, but based on the past that was highly unlikely. Nothing was ever easy. "We're looking to trade some of our goods for Daaliks."

"Trade?" hissed My'sharr, the owner of the establishment. His eyes looked the woman up and down, thinking she was too frail for most tradable services, but he did wonder if her swollen stomach indicated she would serve as a proper incubator. "You buy. You sell. No trades."

"Sell, then," the Intel Chief stated, giving a list of what they be to offer. "Which interests you the most?"

My'sharr looked at the small, fragile device which his claws scratched just picking it up. He couldn't recognize any of the items listed, mainly because her language was foreign to him. He responded to Joey, but only a few words were intelligible. The Aketi translator had to do the work. "He's looking for power converters. Something that can help him convert and refine raw plasma into an energy source."

"We have that," the Intel Chief said. "How many does he want, and he better not try to low ball me, either, considering the type we have has never been seen in this part of space before. He'll be ahead of everyone else with this technology."

Allen walked up next to Joey and whispered. "Not to be a pain, but wouldn't giving new tech to a species in order to help them advance their energy be, you know, Prime Directive related. And who's to say what he's going to use the energy for. We could be giving a military leg up to his favorite trading partner."

Joey mentally facepalmed when in reality, she wanted to do it for real. Of course, in doing so, it would show that there was an issue. She couldn't speak freely, either, which posed another problem. As much as she adored Miller, right now all she wanted to do was throttle him, but that would cause bigger issues. Instead, she opted to give him a look that clearly said keep looking pretty, or I'll bad monkey you. Sadly, he'd just have to trust her. "I've got three of them, and they're portable, so they're easily moved from place to place," she said, turning her attention back to the Gorn-like shopkeeper.

The Gorn growled his approval, followed by a series of grunts and hisses. Translating, the Aketi simply said, "My'sharr will pay one hundred Daaliks for each converter."

"Six hundred for all three. He's getting a hell of a deal considering no one else will have these. He could easily sell them for more than that," Joey said, keeping her eyes locked on the shopkeeper.

Seeing an opportunity, the Aketi spoke her intent to the shopkeeper. After a few moments of back and forth, he said to Joey, "My'sharr wants to see the converter in action before he offers one-fifty a piece. Someone charging so much, he says, makes him think that the merchandise is hot."

"I can assure you none of what we have is 'hot'," she said, clearly offended by the thought, but she demonstrated that one of them worked anyway. "The price is high for two reasons. One... no one else has these but my people in this part of space, and why would I steal from my own people when it could easily be tracked back to me? And two... you would be the only other being in possession of these. If you're unwilling to pay what I want for them based on the fact you think they're hot, then I'll just have to find someone else that's willing to give me what I want. And I'm sure there are others willing to do so when they find out you turned down the chance."

My'sharr looked at her for a moment, then down at the converter. Finally, after moments of silence, he grunted a single word. "He accepts," announced the translator. "For me, that'll be a ten percent finder's fee."

"Done," she said to both My'sharr and the Aketi. "While I have you both here, perhaps one of you could answer a question for me. What happened here?"

My'sharr turned away to hook up one of the purchased converters to a weapons rack, hoping to test it on a few of the weapons he hadn't been able to charge for a few years. The Aketi translator, in response to the human just shrugged. "No one really knows. Popular rumors include Gamma Trios going nova, sending shockwaves into the system. Or some sort of war a couple centuries ago that nearly wiped out several sectors."

While My'sharr conducted his test, Joey managed to keep an eye on him and speak to the Aketi at the same time. "Do you know anyone who might know? I'll feed you first, of course, but my real purpose here is to get information. What you were able to tell me if a definite start." And just to keep him happy, she was willing to make him an offer he couldn't refuse. "For your cooperation, and should the gems and gold not sell, those will be yours to keep, plus, your finders fee. In order for that to happen, answers need to be provided."

The translator shook his head, trying to think of who would know. "None of us were alive then, nor do much of us current generation care. All we know is that we're stuck inside this place. The Guardians watch the borders, make sure nothing gets in or out. If anyone would know... well, the elders are harder to find these days."

"Where was the last known location of the elders?" Joey asked, looking to My'sharr while she waited for the final exchange to take place. "Or do you perhaps have a library? A place that holds archives? Anything like that?"

His reply was a rather thick scoff. "You really aren't from around here are you? This station's seen better days, but it's old. Not many of us can build new stuff, and there's no point in keeping track of the past." Sighing, he added, "Your best bet to find an elder is in the slums three levels down. You best be careful. It's no place for a woman."

A sharp bark of laughter escaped Jayla's lips before she could stop herself. She clamped one hand over her mouth as everyone turned to stare at her. "Sorry," she said. "It's just... I'm pretty sure she's the most deadly person ever to have lived. Everywhere is a place for her." A slight bluff, to be sure, but she got the feeling it wasn't too far off the mark.

The translator shot the spotted woman an odd look. He looked back to Joey, then fired a confused look back at the spotted woman. Clearly, her remark had caught him off guard. "Well, it's your funeral. You'll have to go down there without me, if that's what you want to do."

"We're going to need your help translating," Joey said. "We'll be able to keep you safe if that's what you're worried about."

"Safety isn't what I'm worried about," countered the translator. "It's going to take more than a finder's fee to convince me that this is a good idea."

A thought immediately came to Jayla's mind and she was about to offer it when that still small voice that every joined Trill had stopped her. You are under stress, it said. You will regret it later. With an aggitated sigh, she put the thought out of her head. It probably wouldn't have been accepted anyway.

"You go with us, and if we're successful, I'll triple your finders fee," Joey said, trying to sweeten the deal. "Plus, you get to keep the gems and gold coins if they aren't needed. That's my offer. If you don't want to take it, then I'm sure I can find someone else who will."

The translator remained silent for a few moments, considering his options. He could use the capital, especially without having to constantly fend for himself, and if they could keep him out of trouble with those who were looking for him on that level, that would probably be a win. "Fine then," he said.

Allen had been keeping an eye on their surroundings. And the aliens, definitely the aliens. Things seemed to be going well so far. There were a few times that had pinged his 'sensors,' but they had quickly calmed down.

With that, the translator led them out of the shop and hopefully they wouldn't meet the doom that he deeply feared.

 

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